Re-forming subjects: colonial and national approaches to moral education, 18th to mid-20th century 
Monika Freier (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
Jana Tschurenev (ETH Zürich)
Start time:
26 July, 2012 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

What educational approaches were considered helpful to install ethics in children? How could adults be turned into moral subjects? The presentations in this panel address these questions by investigating the history of formal and informal education in colonial South Asia.

Long Abstract

This panel offers a broad perspective on the history of moral education in modern India against the background of colonial knowledge and the global circulation of educational ideas. On the one hand, it focuses on different efforts to provide moral education in schools and kindergartens. Instructing children in ethical principles and the proper code of conduct is an important element in many pedagogical approaches and educational institutions. The panel analyses the complex objectives and different meanings of children's moral education, as well as the pedagogical technologies and institutional settings which were employed to achieve those objectives. Matching insights from the history of schooling with studies on literary sources, the panel on the other hand explores the agenda and technologies of moral education for adults. It analyses how different literary genres such as advice books or novels aimed to promote standards of ethics and etiquette, challenged or creatively reformulated notions of proper conduct in the world. In many ways literature contained implicit and explicit pedagogical agendas to shape the mind, feelings and body of the reader and thus also to reform the community or society at large. While notions of "character", ethics or personality development were often framed in universalistic terms as applying to human beings in general, efforts to morally educate people were linked to the promotion and negotiation of gender norms, class identities, as well as national identities.

Session 1, "Reforming pedagogy", focuses on three international pedagogical models, the so-called "monitorial system of education" in the early nineteenth century, the Froebelian "kindergarten system" and anthroposophist "Waldorf pedagogy" and points at important shifts in the techniques employed to morally educate children. Session 2, "Moral education for the home and nation", looks at efforts to reform the "inner world", including household, domesticity, and parenting practices, and their deployment in the formation of class identities. Exploring advice literature for women and women's writings, it analyses contrasting norms and models of femininity.Session 3, "Colonial education and the formation of male leadership" analyses gendered notions of proper conduct, particularly focusing on the connection of ethics and masculinity. Important concepts are social virtue and entrepreneurship as well as the central notion of "character".

Accepted papers: